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June 10, 2021 3 min read

The Royal Dutch Shell, also known as 'Shell', is a major multinational oil and gas company. 

According to the Carbon Majors Database, Shell was the 9th biggest polluter in the world from 1988-2015.

Shell ruled to cut emissions...

The Hague court has ordered Shell to cut its worldwide carbon emissions by 45% by 2030 in comparison to its 2019 levels. The oil company was told that it has a duty of care and needed to enhance its sustainability plan to align with the goals of the Paris Agreement.

It was claimed that Shell was breaching the Dutch civil code (article 6:162) and the European convention on human rights (articles 2 and 8) the right to life and the right to family life. The violation is present in the way they are causing danger to others when alternative and less harmful options are available.

The court believed that long-term sustainability plans for the Shell group were "intangible, undefined, and non-binding". At the time Shell argued that there were no legal grounds for the case and that the government was solely responsible for achieving Paris targets *ugh*.

Shell alone, is responsible for 1% of global greenhouse gas emissions each year.

Despite the urgency of the climate crisis, the company is still investing billions into oil and gas.

This ruling will increase pressure on other major polluters, there is no longer room for them to escape the requirements of the Paris Agreement. The time to act is now or they will be left behind.

Shell's response to the court's order...

The Shell Group CEO Ben van Beurden released a statement on the 9th of June expressing that he feels Shell has been singled out and that 90% of the emissions they are responsible for are produced during the use of the products they sell... Our hearts sunk reading the first few paragraphs of the statement, however it turned a corner here... "But, along with my colleagues, I feel something else: a determination to rise to the challenge". *yes*. This ruling means that Shell will accelerate their existing strategy of reaching net-zero by 2050. He expressed that for them to tackle the transition to lower-carbon energy, they need the demand from society, governments, and customers to grow.

The demand-supply setback...

Beurden made a further point "...imagine Shell decided to stop selling petrol and diesel today. This would certainly cut Shell's carbon emissions. But it would not help the world one bit. Demand for duel would not change. People would fill up their cars and delivery trucks at other service stations".

This point is true, all governments and businesses need to be held accountable and work together to build low-carbon demand in the fastest and most efficient way possible.

What can we do as individuals?

Change is critical for major businesses to maintain and grow their presence in the market. This story gives us so much hope that large companies are finally being held accountable for their destructive actions. Keep spreading the word and demanding that companies do better.

As individuals there are so many ways you can help support the rise in demand for lower carbon and renewable energy sources:

  • Switch to banks, super funds, insurance companies, etc. that invest in and use sustainable energy sources
  • Switch to the renewable plan of your energy provider (you'd be surprised, most have the option you just have to request it)
  • Develop a plan and decided if or when switching to electric transport options will be tangible for you, if not, research which fuel provider is doing the most for our planet.

Living a sustainable life is so much more than using a reusable straw. Try not to overwhelm yourself and take it one step at a time. You've got this!

Send this article to your enviro-loving bestie!

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